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How to Remove One Way Screws


One way screws, irreversible screws or clutch head screws provide excellent security as they can’t easily be undone using regular tools. So how do you remove these screws when you need to?

Clutch Head Security Screws

Clutch head security screws, also known as irreversible screws, feature a specially designed screw head which can be tightened using a regular, flat-bladed screwdriver, but cannot be undone due to the head design. Half of the drive slot is removed and the head is designed so that turning a screwdriver anti-clockwise will not work due to the sloping screw-head faces.

One way, clutch head screws like this are intended to be permanent fixings which are never to be undone. But circumstances change and the need to remove these security fixings can arise. Attempting to undo a clutch head screw using a regular screwdriver will fail due to the clever screw head design which prevents the screwdriver from gaining purchase.

clutch head security screws

How to Remove One Way Security Screws

Here at Insight Security we regularly receive queries from people asking how to remove security screws and specifically, how to remove clutch head screws. If security screws were easily removed they wouldn’t be very secure, so removal takes some effort, but it can be done.

There are a variety of security screws, each with different security attributes and designs. This post is specifically about one-way clutch head screws wherein the screw head design allows them to be tightened using a regular screwdriver but not loosened. There are basically 3 options to consider when you need to remove these security screws:

  1. Use a special Clutch Head Removal Tool
  2. Modify the screw head to create a screwdriver slot
  3. Grip the screw head tightly using mole grips or similar.

There is a fourth option - which would be to use a drill to drill-out the security screw. But this technique should be considered only as a last resort after firstly attempting the techniques described here as drilling out is likely to cause damage.

Use a Clutch Head Removal Tool

Clutch head removal tools will work with stainless steel clutch head screws, but you must use the correct sized tool that matches the size of the one way screws. Clutch head removal tools feature two, super-hard tungsten carbide tips which can effectively dig into the screw head. By applying pressure, via the removal tool, it’s possible to gain enough purchase to be able to loosen the security one way screw.

clutch head removal tool for steel screws

As noted, it’s essential that a correctly sized removal tool is used. For example an RT61 clutch head removal tool is good for 13 gauge and 14 gauge screws.

Modify the Screw Head to Create a Slot

It is possible to turn your one way security screw head into a usable flathead screw head by carefully sawing a slot into it. This can be achieved using a small hacksaw or high speed rotary tool such as a Dremel. Once you have cut a suitable slot you will be able to use a regular, flat-bladed screwdriver to loosen and remove the security screws.

Grip the Screw Head Tightly

The third option is to use some locking pliers or mole grips to firmly grasp the screw head, digging the teeth of the pliers into the screw head metal. This can provide enough purchase to loosen the security screw. If the grips keep on slipping then another option is to file two flat sides to the screw head, making it easier to achieve a firm grasp and loosen the screw.

Replace Damaged Security Screws

If you have been forced to remove one way security screws using any of the techniques summarised here it’s important to remember that you need to replace the damaged screws in order to maintain security. Once a security screw has been damaged to achieve removal it no longer provides reliable security so it must always be replaced.

Here at Insight Security we are always ready to help with your security issues. Call us on 01273 475500 for free help and advice.

This message was added on Monday 31st August 2020


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